- Peloton’s holiday ad disaster is just one example of how viral marketing campaigns can go wrong.
- Claire Diaz-Ortiz, a former Twitter employee who is now a social-media consultant, says brands need to stop trying to go viral and instead focus on the value they were providing to consumers.
- In her new book, “Social Media Success for Every Brand,” Diaz-Ortiz described ways brands could create more meaningful engagement on social media.
- Click here for more BI Prime stories.
After a Peloton holiday ad was ridiculed on social media as classist and sexist, a social-media consultant says brands need to stop trying to go viral.
“Someone must have understood that it was something of a play,” Claire Diaz-Ortiz, a former Twitter employee who is now a consultant and angel investor, told Business Insider.
Peloton’s ad portrays an affluent, slim woman using a Peloton stationary bike she received for Christmas from her husband. Many people on social media interpreted it as an awkward internet meme. Some said it was classist and sexist for the way it portrayed the main character. While Business Insider reported on the ire and confusion it sparked online, the company has since said it was “disappointed” in how the spot was “misinterpreted” by viewers.
To Diaz, Peloton’s ad is just one example of how viral marketing can go awry. It’s a cautionary tale of how marketing campaigns can alienate customers instead of drawing them in. “Brands put a lot of money into one-off advertising shots that they would like to go viral in some way, and it’s really, really not a sure thing,” she said.
The Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino was another viral moment that gained the coffee chain buzz but ultimately damaged its reputation. “It didn’t go viral for being delicious,” she said. “It went viral because everyone was completely disgusted with it.”
Diaz-Ortiz, 37, worked for more than five years at Twitter, where she led corporate social innovation, and has been credited with getting Pope Benedict XVI on the social-media platform.
Diaz-Ortiz has experience going viral. In 2014 she live-tweeted her daughter’s birth. Celebrities retweeted her, her tweets appeared on morning shows, and she was on the front page of Yahoo. But the next day, people moved on to the next viral social trend.
She realized that without an engaged following, all the buzz she generated wasn’t productive. “It was a perfect example of how if you don’t have any kind of marketing engagement ladder in place, going viral ultimately does nothing,” she said.
Businesses have a ‘gross misunderstanding’ of social media
Diaz-Ortiz discussed this “engagement ladder” in her latest book, “Social Media Success for Every Brand,” as a way to show businesses how engagement bridges the gap between a customer finding a brand and making a purchase.
Many businesses have a “gross misunderstanding” of what social media is good for, Diaz-Ortiz said. Social media is effective for brand marketing, not direct marketing, and the differentiation is key to how businesses use it, she added.
While direct marketing focuses on advertising that leads to an immediate sale, brand marketing is about increasing awareness.
Social media itself doesn’t make sales, but, over time, brand awareness does.
Brands should think of their social-media accounts like bank accounts — deposit more value than you’re withdrawing. “Which means, I’m giving people content that is useful to them and their problems and then only calling them to action or asking them to click on your website or buy something 20% of the time,” she said.
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2 ways to engage customers without going viral
There are two easy ways to create engagement, Diaz-Ortiz said. The first is asking customers a question. Consider the topics they’re interested in and ask for their thoughts and opinions. This creates conversation around your brand and allows you to learn more about who your customers are.
The second way is through customer service. Respond to queries and outreach from customers about your products. It’s one of the easiest tasks brands can do but often overlook, she said. “It’s kind of shocking the number of brands who are not actually actively monitoring those channels to take care of issues,” she said.
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